Tourism in Londonstan


by Kismet hardy
10th April, 2006 at 12:48 am    

Today the Evening Standard carries a piece on Gautam Malkani’s much-hyped British Asian novel Londonstani, reviewed by Nirpal Singh Dhaliwal, author of the, um, much-hyped British Asian novel Tourism.

Guess what? He hates it. Notwithstanding the lunacy that goes with asking someone to review his direct competitor (think Noel Gallagher gushing over a new Damon Albarn record), it’s depressing trying to work out why Dhaliwal would agree, and take great relish in doing so, to rubbish the very image that will get them both their second book offer – that of pioneers heralding in the new era of British Asian fiction writing.

The first instinct is to assume he wants to be the only one (and to the credit of the famously ego-driven Hanif Kureishi, even he had the grace to be humble about Salman Rushdie’s literary genius). Dhaliwal’s book, which can be summed up thus – I’m a monster shagger, me, and Asian don’t you know, which makes the explicit descriptions of my screwing blonde birds all the more revolutionary – certainly shows a great disdain for all things Asian.

Taking a giant leaf from Julie Burchill and his wife Liz Jones (amusingly, there hasn’t been a single review published that hasn’t pointed out his better half’s credentials), Tourism thrives on shock and schlock – here is a book pandering to the Guardian reading contingency that will no doubt read it as a delicious pastiche where the traditional victim gets one over his oppressors by, well, screwing them.

His other reason for putting Londonstani in a negative light is one some of you might agree with. Without wanting to ruin the brilliant twist for you, I’ll sum it up thus: I’m a rudebwoy innit, don’t be callin’ me no Paki. It’s written entirely in rudeboy patwa, and unless you managed to read Irvine Welsh without wanting to eat your head after a while…. you’ll want to eat your head after a while.

But unlike Dhaliwal, who literally wanks over himself on every page, Gautam Malkani – media editor at the Financial Times – sets out to satirise a part of Asian life we can all relate to rather than ride on “the I’m Asian, but I don’t sound Asian” trend that’s giving literary agents everywhere hard-ons at the moment.

This is great news for aspiring (and in the case of yours truly, deeply bitter) Asian novelists out there. After years of books set over three generations, starting with a grandmother wafting her juices under a banyan tree in Pondicherry and ending with a sari-clad woman rollerblading in Leamington Spa, we can finally put forward our stories almost two decades after Kureishi, Rushdie and co first opened the doors (then promptly shut it) for us. If you’re Asian and have a book in you, the iron is hot – strike.

But Dhaliwal is in danger of buggering it up before you get the chance to slip yours in. It smacks of the whole Asian vs Asian thing that we’ve seen in everything from award ceremonies and PR companies to publications and websites – you name it, anyone doing something worthwhile in our industry has ten contenders on the sidelines eager to bring it down.

Dhaliwal might fancy himself a book reviewer as part of his many talents (although I can’t help but feel it would have been more apt for the Standard to ask him to review Asian Babes), for him to crucify a man on the same journey as him is at best, professional jealousy, at worst, a tragic reminder that we simply can’t get ahead if we see another Asian in the horizon joining the same race.

They’re both bound to lose anyway. I’m writing a novel, you see…

—————————-
This is a guest article.


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  1. sunny hundal

    @rowandavies @bellamack the best review of Nirpal dhaliwal's efforts ever: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/422




  1. Jay Singh — on 10th April, 2006 at 1:58 am  

    Never mind ‘Londonstani’ by Gautam Malkani – the hottest book of the season is getting published soon by Melanie Phillips – and it’s called (call the laywers Gautam) : LONDONISTAN!

    Check it out!

    http://www.melaniephillips.com/

    So who will win in the battle between ‘Londonstani’ and ‘Londonistan’? That’s the real issue of the day, Kismet Hardy.

    (and doesnt Abu Hamza look so 1970′s cool on the front cover of Melanie’s masterpiece? Like from a Blaxpoitation movie or something – yeah baby)

    Personally I think I’d enjoy Melanie’s opus more than the other one – as soon as books get as much hype as the one by the editor from the Financial Times does (keep it ghetto! Financial Times!) you know the novel is going to be flat.

  2. j0nz — on 10th April, 2006 at 2:05 am  

    Nice breast.

  3. Sunny — on 10th April, 2006 at 2:07 am  

    To be fair to Gautam, he tried to prevent the pre-launch hype as much as possible. But I believe during the London book fair last year there was something of a bidding war for the rights, and the hype carried on to this book fair…. and since then has been relentless.

    MP on the other hand… the less said the better. I wonder how many times she has the phrase “dark days” in there.

  4. kismet hardy — on 10th April, 2006 at 2:08 am  

    You should see the other one. All lopsided

  5. kismet hardy — on 10th April, 2006 at 2:09 am  

    Sunny, he got paid half a million quid advance for it

    It’s going to be huge

    Can I just post the opening line: ‘Serve him right he got his muthafuckin face fuck’d, shudn’t b callin me a Paki, innit’

    Let’s see if Melanie’s is as original

  6. Reformist Muslim — on 10th April, 2006 at 8:09 am  

    Afshin Rattansi (Shahab of CNN’s brother) also has a novel (or collection of novels coming out). I believe its called Dream of a Decade. Sounds excellent and has gotten good reviews.

  7. Sid D H Arthur — on 10th April, 2006 at 8:19 am  

    Oi, excellent review and a fine fisking job, rudebwai.

  8. vickie — on 10th April, 2006 at 9:39 am  

    Another first-time Asian novelist, Anita Sethi, has reviewed Dhaliwal’s book in an inconistent but generally favourable way in the latest Times Literary Supplement. She is described as a “freelance writer living in London, completing her first novel.” According to her, Tourism has an “often shapeless meandering narrative” and the author “resorts to unsubtle stereotypes and effortful dialogue to depict London’s contrasting worlds of fashion and squalor”. But she concludes that Nirpal “who already has a reputation as the boorish husband in Liz Jones’s newspaper column, deserves to be known for better things, after this angry, moving, urgent novel.” Moving? I don’t think so! Angry? Manufacturedly so. How come this novel is felt worthy of a review in the TLS, anyhow? Further evidence of the TLS’s dumbing down, falling victim to the the hype? Maybe Sethi is trying to ensure Nirpal will treat her novel sympathetically, given his general antipathy to other Asian writers. Julie Burchill lauds the novel on front and back covers; “touched with genius”…”the best debut I have ever read.” His column in the Sunday Times was sub-Burchill sneering in tone. His novel sub-Houellebecq. He and Jones must be sniggering all the way to the bank.

  9. Jay Singh — on 10th April, 2006 at 10:05 am  

    Half a million for Londonstani? Half a million quid for a debut novel? For that much it better be a work of genius.

  10. Joolz — on 10th April, 2006 at 10:44 am  

    Is Dhaliwal’s review of Londonstani online? Anyone got the link?

  11. kismet hardy — on 10th April, 2006 at 11:09 am  

    It’s in today’s evening standard joolz.

  12. Chris Stiles — on 10th April, 2006 at 12:06 pm  

    After a little trawling around the web to work out who these people were, I came to the conclusion that Dhaliwal is Malkit from Goodness Gracious Me. As evidence:

    http://www.karmaa.co.uk/reviews_eveningstandard3.htm

  13. Sunny — on 10th April, 2006 at 1:52 pm  

    Ha ha! ace link Chris… the secret life of Dhaliwal…

    And I hadn’t heard of Anita Sethi until Vickie mentioned it… and guess what I find! Anita Sethi on Gautam Malkani:
    http://books.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,16488,1642095,00.html

    Are the newspapers playing a joke on Asian writers? Getting them to all review each other? Maybe they should all band together and give glowing reviews….

  14. SajiniW — on 10th April, 2006 at 3:11 pm  

    Rudeboys/goths being sub-educational – Anita Sethi’s gotta be kidding, there – it’s the punks that are the anti-education posse.

    Goths are pro-learning, as evidenced by this study – they’re the subculture most likely to end up in a profession!

    Take a look –

    http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/music/features/article352580.ece

  15. SajiniW — on 10th April, 2006 at 3:19 pm  

    But yeah, rudeboys need help :P

  16. Al-Hack — on 10th April, 2006 at 5:38 pm  

    Bootiful! Can’t tell you how much Nirpal Dhariwal’s rantings have been annoying me past few weeks.

    If you’re out there – give it a rest matey!

  17. al-shaker — on 10th April, 2006 at 5:52 pm  

    Nirpal Dhaliwal’s life is a joke. He is a jealous, manipulative coconut.
    Gautam Malkani’s bok is a true masterpiece.

  18. ContraryMary — on 10th April, 2006 at 5:57 pm  

    Nirpal Dhaliwal is the most annoying, self serving and specious (not to mention talentless), idjut on the block right now. may be he and that anwar khan who was on the front of the media guardian, should get together. their kids would be spectacular.

  19. Jay Singh — on 10th April, 2006 at 5:59 pm  

    Oooh – the Gautam Malkani fans come out! This is getting good now!

    Ouch – the nuclear weapon of Asians in their cussing matches – calling another Asian a ‘coconut’! That is fighting talk my friend! ;-)

    Is it really a masterpiece al-shaker? What’s so good about it that makes it a masterpiece? I read an extract and it didnt seem like a masterpiece to me. Hey, it might be alright, a good novel, but whenever people start hyping up books like that, 99.9999% of the time they chat nonsense. And just bring hype and detriment to the writer you want to support.

  20. Lucy — on 10th April, 2006 at 8:15 pm  

    Dhaliwal might fancy himself a book reviewer as part of his many talents (although I can’t help but feel it would have been more apt for the Standard to ask him to review Asian Babes), for him to crucify a man on the same journey as him is at best, professional jealousy, at worst, a tragic reminder that we simply can’t get ahead if we see another Asian in the horizon joining the same race.

    Erm, its his job.

  21. Sunny — on 10th April, 2006 at 8:22 pm  

    And here we were thinking he was a layabout for years until he published a book, and now fancies himself as a bit of a race commentator….

  22. Lucy — on 10th April, 2006 at 8:58 pm  

    lol

  23. Sid D H Arthur — on 10th April, 2006 at 10:17 pm  

    Still, neither book can be any worse than Monica Ali’s Brick Lane. Never before has such an small insignificant pile of shit get hyped into a such huge stinking pile of steaming turds. Beloved of the Guardian-reading literati luvvies but nothing more than a poorly researched piece of crap that was just simply bad bad bad on every level.

  24. Lucy — on 10th April, 2006 at 11:09 pm  

    :S I thought that was great. Why do you think it was so bad Sid?

  25. Lord Sloth — on 10th April, 2006 at 11:15 pm  

    Writing from the point of view of someone who’s read both books and Nirpal’s interminable review of Londonstani, I have to proclaim that Nirpal is indeed, a ballbag.

    I could’ve forgiven the self-gratifying, misogynistic bilge occasionally punctuated by odd flashes of humour that is Tourism, if it wasn’t for his blatantly whingy, petulant review of Malkani’s book. There is no structure to the review and the toddler actually uses the phrase: ‘inadvertently gay, stupidly written’ to describe Malkani’s book. What is he? Five? Someone get this delusionist a fucking thesaurus.

    If the Standard’s standards have dropped so low that they need to get a sub-standard journalist to review what is potentially a promising debut (although clearly the same can’t be said of Tourism – a butt-sucking homage to Julie Burchill), on the premise that it might be controversial or because they can’t get a rent-a-quote paki to review it, then my friends, the future looks grim.

    He focusses purely on the text-speak and rude-boy lingo that Malkani uses – which I admit grates at times – without even mentioning the deeper sociological issues that are being unveiled. Still, I wouldn’t expect him to notice such subtlety seeing as he reverts to playground descriptions of a woman’s butt-hole as apink-eye squint’ with nary a trace of irony.

    Verdict: Nirpal – you suck. Malkani – I wouldn’t crown you as the new Kureishi, but I definitely like your book and you certainly aren’t in the same ballbag stakes as Nirpal

  26. Lord Sloth — on 10th April, 2006 at 11:18 pm  

    sorry there are a lot of typos but I’ve had a lot of booze, a crap curry and an even crappier book review (re: Tourism VS Londonstani) on the train home.

  27. Lord Sloth — on 10th April, 2006 at 11:21 pm  

    p.s (I promise I’ll go now)
    Lucy, Monica Ali’s Brick Lane was shit. The fact that it was nominated for Booker proves that the world of positive discrimination has gone MAD. Are you seriously telling me that shoddy, gob-shite excuse for a book was on the same level as any Rushdie novel? Even his shitty short stories were better.

  28. Soultrain — on 10th April, 2006 at 11:42 pm  

    I read that review in the Evening Standard – that review was highly critical, and OTT; rather than the critic Dhaliwal express his disapproval of the book, the review kind of verged towards the border of flaming and mud-slinging. It was a very volatile (though I admit very interesting) review – it was like Dhaliwal was consulting the thesaurus in Microsoft Word to find brand new and hard hitting words to express how much he didn’t like that book!

    I suppose that kind of condemnation type of review is what gets you a slot in a paper.

    I think Dhaliwal’s review was actually more based on the story rather than cycling a feud between different writers. He was at pains to mention about how the book focused on “rude boy culture” amongst Asian youths in Britain – and was fed up as this being portrayed as the hidden picture of the Asian community; when this lifetstyle and route been broached several times through books and films already

    And I think he was observing that the book Londonistan contributed nothing new except recycle the same story about Asian youths getting into gangs and trying to act all gangster, when there are plenty of Asians out there who shun that attutides, cliques, and are even victims of that mentality – but then its only one book telling the story of one writer; its not as if its his duty to distort his personal story in the interest of balance.

  29. Al-Hack — on 10th April, 2006 at 11:44 pm  

    I bow down to such a thoroughly superior put-down.

  30. Al-Hack — on 10th April, 2006 at 11:47 pm  

    Arrrrrr, my last comment was for Lord Sloth.

  31. Jay Singh — on 11th April, 2006 at 12:02 am  

    So Londonstani is a book that uncovers ‘a lot of sociological issues’?

    Please spare us from novels that are written to uncover sociological issues.

  32. Jay Singh — on 11th April, 2006 at 12:07 am  

    Whenever the publishing world crowns a new writer as ‘important’ and hypes it up – nine times out of ten it’s a load of bollocks. Case in point – Brick Lane. White people loved it – most Asians thought, ‘this is supposed to be good?’

    It seems Londonstani is being hyped as the new novel to give white people ‘an insight into’ young Asians and all that silliness – I hope its better than that, and isnt just a piece of sociological journalism. But I think that’s what the literati are selling it as.

    As for Tourism, well, Lord Sloth’s review actually made me want to read it just for the description of the girls asshole as a pink eye-squint. I’ll wait for it to come down in price on Amazon.

  33. Sid D H Arthur — on 11th April, 2006 at 12:15 am  

    I thought Monica Ali was an exercise in abstract blaxploitation. Here was a writer with writerly aspirations taking advantage of her ethnicity to get a book published. Worse still was the self-concious wank-fest by the Booker Prise industry in lauding yet another ethnic writer in our midst. Sorry perhaps I’m being unkind to Monica Ali. Maybe it was an industry that takes a passably good writer to gush vacuously and ignorantly on her ethnicity. But thats worse donchathink. I don’t understand why an Asian writer has to write about an Asian theme in order to get recog. Least of all Monica Ali who doesn’t even want to know about the mundane details of her ethnicity. The fact that there are so many mistakes in details that could have been solved by the scantiest research (like asking her dad) and yet being told that it is an epic saga about a Bangladeshi family living in the UK tells me there’s something howwibly wotten in the publishing industry.

  34. Jay Singh — on 11th April, 2006 at 12:19 am  

    Sid

    Spot on about Brick Lane.

    I think all these novels would benefit from less hype and less literati bed-wetting about the ‘importance’ of them – so pompous and absurd. Malkani would probably be better appreciated without so much hype about how he ‘uncovers’ a ‘hidden world’ – please….

  35. Sid D H Arthur — on 11th April, 2006 at 12:28 am  

    OTH, Julian Barnes’ – Arthur and George is brilliantly researched and has a half caste mixed race Indian character too. ooooh efnik.

  36. Lord Sloth — on 11th April, 2006 at 1:33 pm  

    “So Londonstani is a book that uncovers ‘a lot of sociological issues’?
    Please spare us from novels that are written to uncover sociological issues.”

    Jay Singh, oh noble steed, no one is saying that Malkani is saying anything new or that he is the Messiah, designated to educated the Anglais about the ‘gritty’ (how I hate that word) underbelly of Asian yoof. What I’m saying is that there are layers that unpeel in Londonstani which indicates more thought and complexity as opposed to Tourism which charts one man’s journey of getting laid. Not that I have anything against a story like that, but my gripe is with Dhaliwal’s pompous stance as a literary authority when the sod has only published one book. Just about.

    Without wanting it to sound like the self-important wank actors always come out with: ‘I don’t see myself as an Asian actor, I see myself as an actor, ergo and artist’ , I don’t see why we always have such an issue with topics that Asian authors write about. They’re authors first and foremost. When I eventually write a book I’m not going to be worried about the Type A mincers who think we should acknowledge arranged marriages, bhangra and rudeboys otherwise we’re not being true to culture or the Type B twits who think that to acknowledge our brownian identity is being oh so typical.

    Why shouldn’t they write about something just cos someone else has written about it before? As long as it’s written well and has a fresh spin on it, I’d buy it.

  37. Jay Singh — on 11th April, 2006 at 2:17 pm  

    Wow Lord Sloth the passion and intelligence just comes off you like a thousand suns! I am indeed a noble steed, good of you to recognise. And I don’t care what you say, I’m going to buy and read Tourism just because it has descriptions of girls pinky-squinting assholes. And far from being pompous, I think Dhaliwal’s hissy fit was entertaining. Don’t take it so seriously – drink less and eat less curry, don’t type so fast, and concentrate on ‘eventually’ writing your book.

    Safe blud, innit.

  38. Sid Singh — on 11th April, 2006 at 2:32 pm  

    drink less and eat less curry

    Not the kind of advice I would accept from a Singh.

  39. Jay Singh — on 11th April, 2006 at 2:52 pm  

    I am a New Age Singh :-)

  40. Jai — on 11th April, 2006 at 3:25 pm  

    Or a Born-again Singh ;)

    (Ha — sneaky reincarnation reference also slipped in — did ya see what I did there ;) )

  41. Lord Sloth — on 11th April, 2006 at 3:40 pm  

    Jay, Why on earth would you buy a book to read descriptions of pink-eyed squints when you can invest your pocket money on Asian Babes and look at them instead?

  42. Jay Singh — on 11th April, 2006 at 3:51 pm  

    Uh, yeah, OK Lord Sloth.

  43. NorahJones — on 11th April, 2006 at 4:19 pm  

    He has a point Jay…

  44. Jay Singh — on 11th April, 2006 at 4:30 pm  

    Heh – I was being ironic, you know, a little bit cheeky, a little bit naughty, a little bit silly, in the face of Lord Sloth’s literary hurricane, I mean, I like Asian Babes as much as the next man, but in truth, pinky-squinty assholes don’t appeal to me that much, hehehe

  45. Sid Singh — on 11th April, 2006 at 4:42 pm  

    pinky-squinty assholes don’t appeal to me that much

    Not the kind of advice I would accept from a Singh.

  46. Jay Singh — on 11th April, 2006 at 4:46 pm  

    I told you – I am a New Age Singh :-)

  47. NorahJones — on 11th April, 2006 at 5:02 pm  

    Fight fight fight!

  48. Rohin — on 12th April, 2006 at 8:16 am  

    Hello English friends.

    This was a corking article KH. How’s your novel going? Did you use that extensive shaking research I did for you? Anyway, you give me an idea when you said this:

    “the I’m Asian, but I don’t sound Asian” trend that’s giving literary agents everywhere hard-ons at the moment.”

    And you say ironing is hot so to striking. Hence I am write book full of prosing flows.

    What I mean is, with all this efflux of rebellious Asians or rudeboys, I think I shall write a book about a nice young man who goes to medical school, after having been offered places for engineering and accountancy too. He has a side parting and speaketh the Queen’s English. He loves his Mum and gets up to no hijinx. He thinks bhangra is awfully droll but is too shy to partake. Sex before marriage makes him titter and he works at the community centre at weekends. And he plays the sitar.

    I think it’ll be a smash hit.

  49. Dolores Haze — on 12th April, 2006 at 1:40 pm  

    Sam Leith in the Telegraph has the final word on Dhaliwal, I think. Nirpal, you simply are not as good or original as you think you are, and you commit the worst sin any writer can commit – unoriginal second hand thinking, besides the laughable nature of your tedious racial and class posturing. Check it out:

    ============

    Also, like many first novels, it was slavishly under the influence of another writer – Michel Houellebecq. Houellebecq himself is, in turn, in thrall to a succession of middle-class, white writers such as Camus and Sartre and is filled with all the off-the-peg solipsism, sexual disgust and misanthropy belonging to that tradition. Epater les bourgeois is an old game, and one never played with more enthusiasm than by the bourgeoisie itself.

    DHALIWAL CLICHE ALERT! read on….

    In his short article, Mr Dhaliwal finds space to attack “the trendy, PC brigade”, “head-in-the-sand, feelgood novels”, the “liberal mainstream”, “metropolitan liberals”, “groovy multicultural credentials”, “the delicate taste of the Merchant Ivory-watching middle classes”, and proclaims – with a flourish borrowed from David Cameron – that “Britain is changing”.

    It doesn’t take a professor of literature to discern a couple of second-hand observations in there. If you’re going to tell the truth about a society (one of many different things you can choose to do in a novel), you need to be a better writer, and a better reporter, than that. Being at the coalface is a great start for a novelist, but the only thing that matters to readers is what you dig out of it.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2006/04/03/do0304.xml

    ========

    Well done Mr Leith, for seeing through the tedious posturing and pretensions, the seething smoke screen, the second hand style, unoriginal thoughts, the studied misanthropy, the hysterical attention seeking insecurity. Let’s hope Nirpal can come up with something better in his second novel instead of hand me down Houellbecq and Oxfam worn postures that delight a titiilate a certain kind of witless middle class white literati type.

  50. BollywoodScum — on 16th April, 2006 at 9:20 pm  

    Nihal Amaranayake: An Apology

    Mr Amaranakayake,

    Bollywood Scum would like to apologise for the comments pertaining to yourself on the BollywoodScum website, namely, the description of you as “Current Reigning Lord-God-King of 2nd Generation Asian Wankerdom”.

    It is clear following recent revelations by a Mr Nirpal Singh Dhaliwal, the toyboy Designated F*ck of a batshit mental fashionista memsahib that this appelation is no longer an appropriate description when other, mre fitting candidates are in existence.

    We would like to apologise unreservedly for the remarks, but we probably won’t get round to removing them just yet because we can’t be arsed.

  51. sonia — on 16th April, 2006 at 11:26 pm  

    reference to person up there about the details of monica ali’s book being ‘wrong’..what exactly are you talking about??

  52. Stephanie Smith — on 18th April, 2006 at 5:25 am  

    Afshin Rattansi’s novel beats all the the white middle class “asian-o-phile” stereotype!

    It gives a class A punch to those that think that all Asian writers can write about are poorly realised sketches of a poor that they will never know.

  53. angie — on 18th April, 2006 at 5:36 pm  

    Tourism ………………. ha typical controversial first novel required in order to get noticed. One has confimed that stereotype . Filth/crass talk sells whats new or original about that? Really I expected better from Mr Singh.

  54. Jay Singh — on 18th April, 2006 at 5:56 pm  

    I found the review by Nirpal Singh Dhaliwal of Londonstani posted on a blog and I dont actually see what all the hysteria is about – I was expecting it to have been a huge major bitching hatchet job but he makes some good points. And at the end of the day it is all about opinion, and this is his opinion. Read it for yourself and see:

    +++++

    Nitwits on Nokias
    (Evening Standard Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)Londonstani by Gautam Malkani (Fourth Estate, GBP12.99)

    I CAN imagine the orgasmic squeal that rang through the offices of Fourth Estate on procuring 30-year-old Gautam Malkani’s debut novel, Londonstani.

    The moment for gushing, middleclass liberals to connect with the “real” Asian experience had arrived.

    Via a Cambridge graduate who is an editor at the Financial Times, that is.

    Touted as a gritty portrayal of macho Asian youth who menace the streets of Hounslow, I found it instead to be an inadvertently gay, stupidly written tale of teenage inanity.

    The novel opens with senseless racist violence, as Hardjit, a hulking Punjabi brute, batters a swotty white kid who tries to shield himself with library books.

    He gives the unfortunate boy a needless speech in the politics of the word Paki: “It ain’t necessary for u 2 b a Pakistani to call a Pakistani a Paki, or for u 2 call any Paki a Paki for dat matter.”

    The poor assaulted child has to listen to this fool speak in riddles for several more pages, despite never using the word in the first place. “Us bredrens who don’t come from Pakistan can still b call’d a Paki by other bredrens, if it means we can call dem a Paki in return.” And on and on he goes, labouring this logic to its limit.

    Hardjit is a preening alpha-queen, a compulsive weightlifter who loves designer clothes. The weedy narrator, Jas, adores his “perfectly built body”.

    Several times Jas’s besotted gaze is caught lingering: “His body a firm new Audi concept car waitin to be unveiled.”

    The desire is mutual as revealed by Hardjit’s flash of enraged sexual jealousy: “u best stay clear a her n all bitches, less u want me 2 pull out your tongue wid dese tweezers.”

    They and their two friends, Ravi and Amit, mince around Hounslow in Ravi’s lilac BMW, while retaking their A-levels at the local college. But these clowns are just way too dumb, so embark on an implausible scam involving mobile phones instead.

    Jas is an idiot who believes Hardjit articulates himself with “an eloquence an conviction” that makes him “green with envy”. He longs for the same unique powers of _expression: “I wouldn’t decide that the proper word for a dickless poncey sap is a gay batty boy or that the proper word for women is bitches.”

    “One good thing though: now that I use all these proper words I’m hardly ever stuck for words. I’m talkin proper, talkin like Hardjit.” What is he trying to say? Am I supposed to care?

    These questions arise many times while reading this novel. Even Jas seems dimly aware of his worthlessness as a narrator: “I just slated the way I was thinking – slated it even before I finished thinkin it, never mind sayin it, so I ended sounding like a dick.”

    He does indeed sound like a dick, all the time. This is the only meaningful observation he ever makes. His moronic inner monologue is sometimes astonishing, but never interesting: “I’ll daydream that I’m a Nazi. Were they all wankers? At least they walked and talked proply.”

    None of the characters has depth or complexity, yet we are subjected to the bloodcurdling triviality of their preoccupations at great length. Cars and pop music are very important. “Take the body on a Lexus SC400. Like Christina Aguilera. The curves on the Audi TT make it J-Lo while the Porsche 911 GTS got a booty like Beyonce.”

    Mobile phones are also a priority.

    “He’d got his own E700 by legally upgrading his old Nokia 6310 (his others being a Nokia 2600 and a Nokia 7210).”

    Despite their nerdy obsession with phones, they have nothing to say. Their dialogue is excruciating: “I bet I can put my finger where I want to wid her.

    Dat’s cos she’s a ho.”

    “She’s a flirt.”

    “Ho.”

    “Flirt.”

    “She’s a slut.”

    I initially thought this was all an Ali Gstyle spoof, given how daft it is; but Londonstani is presented as the untold story of the Asian experience in Britain.

    Malkani’s formula for creating characters is to take the worst stereotypes of young black men – stupidity, fecklessness and criminality – and apply them to Asians.

    He writes in an almost impenetrable gibberish, which the execs at Fourth Estate, peering from their bourgeois eyrie, recognise as “the vibrant language” of Asian youth today. Where did Malkani encounter kids as wholly subnormal as these?

    THE trash that inhabit this novel apparently suffer from an identity crisis, using a plethora of labels to make sense of themselves.

    “First we was rudeboys, then we was Indian niggas, then rajamuffins, then raggastanis, Britasians, fuckin Indobrits.” Try this one, guys: retards.

    Given the compelling originality of Malkani’s own personal story – a Hounslow boy who rises through Cambridge to become a media high-flyer – and the extraordinary contrasts and juxtapositions it must contain, I’m intrigued as to why he’s then devoted more than 300 pages to these nitwits. He ignored the most interesting material at his disposal, choosing instead to write a tale that panders to cosseted middleclass notions of edginess.

    Publishers who have only experienced the world through books can’t see the wood for the trees; hence there is a market for misrepresentative nonsense like this – a fact Malkani has cleverly exploited. Either that, or he was kidnapped by a troupe of these vicious ninnies and made to chronicle every nuance of their empty lives at gunpoint.

    His publishers describe the novel as “crude” and “disturbing” and it is – woefully so.

    * Nirpal Dhaliwal is the author of Tourism (Vintage, GBP7.99).

  55. Jay Singh — on 18th April, 2006 at 5:58 pm  

    I’m going to read them both – having read the reviews they actually sound at least like enjoyable reads.

  56. Jai — on 18th April, 2006 at 6:55 pm  

    “Hardjit” sounds like a made-up name — it doesn’t mean anything in Gurmukhi/Punjabi. Harjit, yes, Hardeep, absolutely. Hardjit ?! Hmm…..

    ;)

  57. rockmother — on 26th April, 2006 at 6:50 pm  

    I agree with Angie – although I haven’t actually finished Tourism yet – it definately feels like a first novel. It is remarkably self-centred and self-congratulatory. It’s certainly not ‘Money’ (which you feel he kind of aspires to) and it is almost a bit like a ‘lad’s’ lazy Bridget Jones. I can imagine it being serialised and then packed up in plastic for free on the front of the Observer before long.

    He’s not a bad writer – but I think there is a better book to be had out of him. Or perhaps he will suffer from Alex Garland syndrome and dry up?? Who knows. Him and his wife seem to have fashioned themselves as the Posh and Becks of the literary world. No wonder they are both on the receiving end of so much backlash.

  58. Sunny — on 26th April, 2006 at 8:18 pm  

    Having read that review finally, I wonder if Nirpal has ever actually gone to a Hounslow school. There is so much to say on this but I cannot be asked.

    Suffice to say, the backlash to his review forced the Evening Standard to run a letter from our Kismet Hardy the following day or so.

    And funny that ES’s own review of Londonstani this week was so glowing.

  59. rockmother — on 26th April, 2006 at 8:39 pm  

    I went to a college in Hounslow with (I think) either his sister or a close relative. I think he did go to school either in Greenford or thereabouts. At my college the Sikh’s fought the black kids at lunchtime with big swords which was a bit scary but then I realised that alot of black friends I had in Southall hated Asian people. I was really shocked – they were my friends but so fucking ignorant – all at the same time. Horrible.

  60. Sunny — on 26th April, 2006 at 8:45 pm  

    Yes, unfortunately that is Hounslow boys for you (having also grown up in the area). Sikhs v blacks, Sikhs v Muslims… A lot of people I knew were a right bunch of fuckwits. But thankfully they seem to have now grown up a bit. In the early 90s it became very stupid for a time.

  61. rockmother — on 26th April, 2006 at 10:41 pm  

    Yeah – this was a bit earlier – 1985-86. Hounslow Borough College – kind of like a cross between ‘Fame’, ‘Grease’ and ‘The Bill. At one time, the sword fights were so fierce that they had to shut a whole part of the college down regularly each week. Of course, we carried on regardless. No one pronounced it Hounslow – more like Haahnslaaah. Innit :-) !

  62. Sunny — on 26th April, 2006 at 11:06 pm  

    Ha ha! Well Hounslow Borough College was pretty notorious during my time a bit later too. I bet it was those idiots from the Holy Smokes then… or was it the Tooting Nungs at the time.

  63. rockmother — on 26th April, 2006 at 11:24 pm  

    Hmm…don’t know. I’m currently researching music and political material c. 1979-81 for a feature film I’m trying to develop set against a backdrop of the race riots/spg/two tone and what has been preying on my mind recently is that I feel that whole situation coming around again. Only today I was aware that I sense a big brewing up of national tensions – especially with forthcoming local elections. What the BNP movement are doing in East London is cause for great concern and no one seems to be doing anything about it.

  64. Sunny — on 26th April, 2006 at 11:52 pm  

    “race riots/spg/two tone” – what do the latter two refer to?

    You think the threat of the BNP will lead to more race riots? I don’t know. I don’t see that happening unless the Nat Front people take to the streets. That is when trouble may start, as it did in Oldham/ Bradford in 2001.

  65. rockmother — on 27th April, 2006 at 12:09 am  

    SPG – the sinister police faction that were disbanded once the SUS laws were changed. Two Tone as in Ska music adopted in part by skinheads in the early 80′s. Perhaps I wrote unclearly – I wasn’t suggesting that the threat of the BNP will lead to more race riots but just that I feel that we are in general teetering on the edge of more this year possibly.

  66. Sunny — on 27th April, 2006 at 1:05 am  

    Hmmm. I’m not sure. Although race riots are hard to predict, since the Birmingham one came slightly out of the blue (though I saw and posted rumours flying about by email on here a few days before it kicked off), I’m not so sure.

    The hype around the BNP during local elections is old hat. No doubt that the cartoons controversy and the London bombs have made things worse, but I don’t see that translating into BNP election gains. Though I could be proven wrong.

  67. BM — on 27th April, 2006 at 1:26 pm  

    does anyone have the “newer” review that the evening standard gave londonstani? Sunny (message 58) mentioned it was glowing, but i can’t find it anywhere.

  68. Mazoldboy — on 3rd May, 2006 at 12:18 pm  

    Nirpal takes shots at Zadie Smith at The First Post

    http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/index.php?menuID=1&subID=461

    Clearly only one author is in touch with the urban youth …Dhaliwal himself

  69. Jay Singh — on 3rd May, 2006 at 12:29 pm  

    I read Nirpal’s diss of Zadie Smith Mazoldboy and he comes across as really rude and unnessecarily personal.

  70. Mazoldboy — on 3rd May, 2006 at 12:38 pm  

    Indeed

    Those traits mask the lack of original thought within the man…

  71. Sunny — on 3rd May, 2006 at 1:50 pm  

    He’s a twat! I just read that now… Time magazine is notoriously right-of-centre and pro-Bush. So instead Dhaliwal takes a dig at Liberals again. If it was Newsweek magazine then maybe he’d have a point.

    Is that all he does now? Write articles to have dig at liberals?

  72. rockmother — on 4th May, 2006 at 10:52 am  

    Re: Zadie Smith article:
    Christ – what a superficial, shallow writer he is. Does he think he has influenced any of the young Asians in Britain either? I doubt anyone on Southall High Street knows who he is. So what. He seems to have obviously spent far too much time hanging around the bitchy fashionista sets of Primrose and Notting Hill.

  73. Roger — on 4th May, 2006 at 11:04 am  

    “Clearly only one author is in touch with the urban youth …Dhaliwal himself ”
    Suburban youth, surely.
    Smith isn’t only in touch with urban youth: she is admired by many people of all races and classes which suggests she could be much more than someone who expresses and typifies a momentary attitude.

  74. Jay Singh — on 4th May, 2006 at 12:25 pm  

    rockmother

    That’s so true – I doubt Punjabi lads in Southall or Coventry even know who he is! He is trying to play the bad boy for the literati set and if he sets stupid standards like that for Zadie Smith he should set them for himself.

  75. Mazoldboy — on 4th May, 2006 at 12:30 pm  

    Hi Roger

    My comment
    “Clearly only one author is in touch with the urban youth …Dhaliwal himself ”

    was intended as sarcasm…

    He seems hell bent on the character assassination of any other author who ‘dares’ to fill that space

    Just to clarify – Dhaliwal is an arse as far as Im concerned

  76. Roger — on 4th May, 2006 at 12:54 pm  

    Mazoldboy- got the sarcasm- it’s just that I thought it worth emphasising that his urban “credentials” are as valid as Mr Pooter’s.

  77. Johnny Singh — on 5th May, 2006 at 12:39 pm  

    Kid Nirpal and the Coconuts

    This week’s flavour of the minute is obviously milk chocolate. What other explanation could there be for The Man allowing the bountiful (or should that be Bounty Bar?) Nirpal Singh Dhaliwal and Yasmin Alibhai Brown freedom from the paddy fields to do massa’s dirty work, i.e. rail against domesticated Asians, black people, mixed-race authors and (ouch – NOT!) white liberals. If the likes of these so-called “commentators” chose any softer targets they’d have to exchange their laptops for bouncy castles – so padded and full of stale air are their rants.

    Alibhai Brown has long been The Man’s reporter at large on all things ethnic, reporting from the coalface of multicultural Britain on what the uppity darkies are up to while reassuring liberals and Tory gits alike not to worry. “Don’t worry memsahib, the neo-colonialists have got us all on lockdown. No problem boss, I’ll be a good little P….” You get the picture; so let’s forget about her. Now she’s got a sold-out mate, in the shapelessness of Dhaliwal, a man who’s written a book (“novel” would be stronging it) thanks to the largesse of a middle-aged liberal white female who can soothe his furrowed brow when those horrid Alis, Kureshis and Rushdies try to write him off the page.

    Suprisingly, or more accurately, gallingly, Dhaliwal’s rage against Malkani’s tome smacks of “I’m the only Asian in the village” superciliousness. Perhaps he, Malkani, Kureshi et al could duke it out for the right to be this month’s token Asian hack in a literary version of Ultimate Fighting. I can see it now at the Hay Book Festival: “In the Octagon, presenting Masher Malkani – specialising in grappling with Punjabi vernacular and wrestling with characterisation – versus Duffer Dhaliwal, whose style includes whinge chung, Fujitsu (he does gadget reviews on the side) and boxing (i.e. bundling up all those returns of “Tourism” from Waterstones).

    Personally, from what I’ve read of Malkani’s texty novel, I’d give it a miss and go for a curry down Brick Lane if I want to see what ’06 rudeboys are up to, innit? But if Dhaliwal thinks his own effort at “telling it as it is” in the woeful “Tourism” and a bunch of take the money and run Fleet Street rants is any better, think again. How does having four As at A level, a degree in English and American Literature from Nottingham, a former career at the BBC and a marriage to a white hack-cum-Mail on Sunday columnist make him any more qualiied to “represent” than Malkani? He’s living in cloud cocoa land.

    At a time when racists are getting hard-ons for scoring a few crummy points at the council elections, Asians and black people are being murdered in racist attacks, mini-riots, rising unemployment, apathy and state-sanctioned bigotry is blighting our communities – not to mention all the creeping anti-civil liberties legislation designed to “put us in our place” – all the likes of Dhaliwal can say is: “how high?” when whitey tells him to jump.

    In essence, him and his ilk are full of shit. And spineless. There’s no point expecting anything from such an arse-licking creep. We’ve seen the colour fade from the cheeks of other wannabe white-man-Asian collaborators before. Let’s see what happens to Dhaliwal when the sun stops shining on his well-tanned act.

  78. sonia — on 5th May, 2006 at 1:02 pm  

    “white-man-Asian collaborators”. sounds to me like an us vs. them approach.

    racism – hmm i wonder what actually means!

  79. Rohin — on 5th May, 2006 at 1:29 pm  

    “In the Octagon, presenting Masher Malkani – specialising in grappling with Punjabi vernacular and wrestling with characterisation – versus Duffer Dhaliwal, whose style includes whinge chung, Fujitsu (he does gadget reviews on the side) and boxing (i.e. bundling up all those returns of “Tourism” from Waterstones).

    This is fucking funny. The whole comment is. Stick around Johnny Singh, I like your style!

    Did Dhaliwal get 4 As? He always struck me as thick. Still…not FIVE As is it? *polishes nails on T-shirt*

  80. Jay Singh — on 5th May, 2006 at 1:46 pm  

    Someone e-mail Johnny Singh’s blistering and funny post to Nirpal Dhaliwal please.

  81. Sid — on 5th May, 2006 at 2:35 pm  

    Suprisingly, or more accurately, gallingly, Dhaliwal’s rage against Malkani’s tome smacks of “I’m the only Asian in the village” superciliousness.

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head Johnny Singh.

  82. Jay Singh FAO Rohin — on 5th May, 2006 at 6:09 pm  

    Rohin

    I just read this article in the Independent and thought you may like it – all about the crap and cliche of British Asian cinema:

    http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/film/features/article361930.ece

  83. Rohin — on 5th May, 2006 at 6:27 pm  

    Jay thanks! That was great, he read my mind. Praises Monsoon Wedding, attacks British Asian film portrayal, attacks Gurinder Chadha – is there anything this article DOESN’T have? Excellent and well written.

    Kapadia’s point is one of the main ones:

    “For people like myself there is a much wider experience in Britain then just going on about arranged marriages. The danger is that it will breed tedium and films representing Asians will stop getting made.”

    Sunny do you know this Kaleem Aftab?

    BTW I find it laughable that yet another Romeo & Juliet clone, this time called Love + Hate, has even stolen the ‘+’ from Baz Luhrman’s Romeo + Juliet! How do these filmmakers think what they’re doing is original? Jeez, can’t they use their eyes and see there’s enough junk out there?

  84. Jay Singh FAO Rohin — on 5th May, 2006 at 6:31 pm  

    Rohin – I think it is really disturbing that the guy who made The Warrior couldnt get anyone to finance his next movie when he wanted to make movies about British Asian life that didnt follow the cliches and stereotypes – proof that its not the talent that is lacking, its the money men who dont want to finance stories apart from the usual storylines and stereotypes.

  85. Jay Singh — on 5th May, 2006 at 6:33 pm  

    You need to make your movies man! You’re the man to do it! Somebody needs to shake up this movie scene!

  86. raz — on 5th May, 2006 at 6:38 pm  

    Rohin, I’ll help you! The world’s first Asian sci-fi/zombie/stop motion/hentai film is coming from us.

  87. Rohin — on 5th May, 2006 at 6:43 pm  

    I enjoyed The Warrior, but I can see why some didn’t. I’m very into my slow, sweeping, beautiful films but many will get bored. Absolutely right Jay, I’ve recently learned that both in publishing and film there is not really a dearth in talent or variety, but the powers that be want the same stereotyped content.

    It’s worse for film in a way, as the outlay is so much more than for a book. Actually even my old friend Gurinder Chadha said getting Film Council money was much easier when she wrote Bend It, which she admits is a stereotypical feel-good film, in comparison to more offbeat prior scripts. However now she’s big (no pun intended) I feel she should try to redress the balance. Well she has other fish to fry, fine.

    Thanks for the encouragement Jay, I will do my best! But making a film is so tough. As in a proper film. I can do a Blair Witch – in fact I have that same camera – but a film (not digital) production is a big undertaking. As of late I’ve decided I will try writing first. I’ll fail at that, spend my savings on a film, fail at that and become a GP in Slough. Whatever, watch this space!

  88. Rohin — on 5th May, 2006 at 6:45 pm  

    Yeah Raz, don’t forget the robots!

    Did you see the top ten sci fi in the Grauniad yesterday? Hmm…strange selection.

  89. Jay Singh — on 5th May, 2006 at 6:47 pm  

    Rohin

    I can see why the Warrior didn’t receive everyone’s acclaim – but it won awards and critical acclaim around the world. So the director says he wants to make movies about modern British Asian life – he’s got the talent – does he get the funding? Does he hell – the same old tripe by the same old mediocrities gets the funding. Work as a GP in Slough to fund your first movie! Whatever it is good luck.

  90. raz — on 5th May, 2006 at 6:50 pm  

    LOL at becoming a GP as a ‘failure’ :)

  91. Jay Singh — on 5th May, 2006 at 6:52 pm  

    Becoming a GP anywhere other than Slough is a success – its being a GP in Slouth that will make him a failure :-)

  92. Rohin — on 5th May, 2006 at 6:58 pm  

    Mate, with the new GP salaries I’m suddenly giving it some serious thought. Whew.

  93. Roger — on 5th May, 2006 at 7:00 pm  

    Don’t think it was the top ten- just the longest ten.

  94. raz — on 5th May, 2006 at 7:16 pm  

    What was the list?

  95. Rohin — on 5th May, 2006 at 7:20 pm  

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/life/news/page/0,12983,1290764,00.html

    Not odd choices per se, just a few surprises considering it was a public vote. Look Raz, we can pitch our film and win the top 10 on DVD!

  96. raz — on 5th May, 2006 at 7:52 pm  

    Hmmm

    10/. Close Encounter’s of the Third Kind:

    Mostly, this is actually a mind-numbingly boring saga of a mentally deranged guy searching for aliens. The last 15 minutes is incredible, yes (who can forget the ‘musical’ scene) but the overall film is patchy.

    9/ The Matrix (1999)

    LOL LMAO ROFLMAO This is the biggest pile of shit ever. Laughable ‘philosophy’, weak martial arts, gunplay a very poor fascimile of a John Woo movie, not saved by the ‘bullet time’ conceit (see Ringo Lam’s Full Contact for a much earlier and much better use of bullet cam).. Seriously overrated film

    8/ War of the Worlds (1953)

    Now this is a good film, one of my favourites from childhood. Groundbreaking SFX for the time (OK we can see the wires today) Yes the script is hokey, but it has a real charm. The bit with the priest .going up to the Martian war machine followed up by all hell breaking loose with the military vs aliens was seriously awesome. Other memorable setpieces include Martian stalking the couple in the house and the H-bomb scene. Definitely a classic.

    7/. The Day the Earth Stood Still

    Classic. Nothing more to be said. Gort was a BAD motherfucker. “Klaatu barada nikto!” Should be higher.

    6/. Terminator (1984)/T2(1991)

    I’m not a huge fan of these movies but they are good. Second is more of an action film than the first, rather like Aliens compared to Alien.. Predator is my favourite Arnold movie.

    5/. Solaris (1972)

    This movie was obviously too intellectual for me to understand. Or maybe I’ve never taken drugs. I’m sure it means something.

    4/ Alien (1979)

    Great film, can drag a little on repeat watchings though. Chestburster scene – classic (I wish I had seen that in the cinema when it came out). Alien design – classic. Gieger earned his paycheck here.

    3/ Star Wars (1977)/Empire Strikes Back (1980)

    Not really a huge Star Wars geek, but I can see why these are a popular choice. Interesting fact, the death star attack in the first film is heavily inspired by the old WWII movie 633 squadron.

    2/ 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

    Iconic imagery, great sfx for the time, a memorable character in HAL, and that whole ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’/'Blue Danube’ business. I don’t know what it all means though. I’m sure lots of drugs were involved in the creation of this as well. Guess I’m missing out.

    1/ Blade Runner.

    Again, some memorable imagery, the whole ‘futuristic cityscape’ thing, and some weighty subject matter courtesy of Philip K Dick. Not sure if it’s the best of all time though, but I tend to be biased towards older stuff.

    Some good films on there, and some bizarre ones (The Matrix LOL). Other films that could have been considered, off the top of my head:

    Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
    Quatermass and the Pit (1967)
    Invaders from Mars (1953)
    The Thing from Another World (1951)
    The Thing (1982)
    Things to Come (1936)
    The Beast from the 20,000 fathoms (1953)
    Godzilla (1954)
    Akira (1988)
    Forbidden Planet (1956)

    Ah, I better stop, So many more films I can think of. Picking a Top 10 would be impossible :(

  97. Rohin — on 5th May, 2006 at 8:07 pm  

    I have to disagree about the Matrix. I think 9 or 10 is a fair place for it. I won’t disagree at too much length as I can smell dinner, but despite it just being a Ghost in the Shell-Transformers mashup, it’s still fucking good. I’m not fussed about the martial arts and not especially about the SFX, I just think it was overtly cool without making any apologies for it. Who cares if philosophy is bunk? I buy the Force wholesale. I won’t apologise for it, I really like the Matrix.

    I wouldn’t put Solaris (72) so high and frankly 2001 neither. I find it annoying that article interviewed two people I know and they didn’t think to consult me once. So what that the other two are PhDs and people who’ve gone into orbit, I bet they don’t know their Clingon from their Klingon.

    I think Bladerunner no. 1 is a choice I can agree with. No Planet of the Apes? No Star Trek?! (joking!) No Metropolis? Would Brazil be sci fi? Twelve Monkeys (not top ten I don’t think)?

    Akira etc – opening it to manga may change a lot. Hmm, having said that Akira is still probably the only one I’d single out to be in an overall top 10 sci fi. Definite possibility, ten times more iconic than the Matrix.

    You’re clearly more of a classic fan than me.

  98. Jai — on 6th May, 2006 at 10:54 am  

    People have different preferences. Some like the “masala” sci-fi eg. Star Trek & Star Wars, others prefer something more overtly intellectual eg. Solaris, 2001 etc. Different strokes for different folks.

    Speaking of Star Trek movies, I think The Wrath of Khan was the best one all-round. It also seemed to make the 23rd Century a really exciting and upbeat time to be alive (just the way human life and society was portrayed). I didn’t really get that feeling with most of the later films and definitely not with any of the spin-off series, from TNG onwards.

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